Victims of Bullying: Why it’s So Important to Set Boundaries

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You must have the courage to love yourself, even when it angers the people around you. That means setting boundaries, being clear on what you will and will not tolerate.

During grade 6, my first year at Oakley* Schools, I lacked boundaries because I didn’t know how to enforce them. Without those limits, I gave away my friendship, time, energy and power to people who never deserved it and left nothing for myself. I was bending over backward to please others, treading lightly, being careful not to rock the boat, and make other people angry. I had been conditioned to think that I wasn’t enough, and I should be anything other than myself. And I thought that being friendly, being accommodating, and being available would win me love and friendship. It didn’t. It got me the exact opposite- walked over, bullied, and mistaken for a fool because the people I was overly friendly to never extended the same to me in return. Without meaning to, I gave the impression that I was desperate to fit in.

A year or so later, during the seventh grade, I began setting boundaries because I was tired of being a doormat. However, first impressions are powerful and it was too late. The power dynamic and others’ expectations of me had already been set. What I should’ve done was drew the line from day one.

In junior high, although my boundaries were clear, many others violated them every chance they got for no other reason than to demonstrate their power and show who was boss. Anytime I said ‘no’ to any of my classmates at school, I would face retaliation of some kind- guilt trips, threats, or physical beatings because they had grown too used to me being a pushover. They were afraid that if I developed a spine, the benefits they were getting at my expense would stop. Therefore, the retaliation was their way of reinforcing their power and dominance and keeping me subdued.

But now that we’re all adults, let any of them try that today, and they will be very disappointed. Back then, I often wondered why nothing ever seemed to work out. Understand that timing is everything. And that you do have power, but for it to work, you must know how to use it and you must stand up for yourself the very first time bullies come for you. Otherwise, your place in the pecking order will become iron clad and once that happens, you might as well not have any power at all.

No entry sign

I didn’t realize it then, but during those early years in Oakley*, I was going about it all wrong. ‘You see? You must put yourself and your needs first. Never lower your standards or your boundaries! It’s okay to be kind, but never be nice! The difference between kind and being nice is that kindness is genuine. People are kind because it’s the right thing to do, not because it can win friendships or favors. Also, kind people never give at their own expense.

Nice people, on the other hand, want friendship and approval. Also, people who are nice give at their own peril and stick their neck out for others to step on, thinking others will come around when they realize how much they care. “Nicies” are under the impression that the more you suffer, the more it shows you care. Um- Wrong!

It gives the impression that you’re a pushover, a kiss butt, a bootlicker! Being nice never awards you any respect because there’s usually an ulterior motive and the reason for your niceness is to avoid conflict! Being kind, on the other hand, is genuine and others can sense the genuineness. Being kind is much more respectful. Being ‘nice’ is for wimps.

Understand that anytime you set boundaries, there will always be those who will hate you for it and retaliate. And they will fight you for a while to wear you down. That’s what bullies do! However, stick to your guns. Keep fighting for your right to be treated with respect. Show them that you will stand up to them no matter what they do, and eventually, they’ll get tired and realize that you aren’t worth the effort. They’ll go find an easier target.

So, always set limits and be prepared to fight to protect them. Be kind, yes! But if people start taking your kindness for being a fool and treating you like crap, don’t be afraid to tell these people to kiss off!

Being kind to others means being kind to yourself first.

*Not the real name of the town

Like Versus Respect

Judgemental girls

There can be respect without like. However, there can never be like without respect. Put simpler, a person doesn’t have to like you to respect you, but they do have to respect you to like you.

Respect and like are different in that like is simply based on commonalities and good feelings shared between people. When someone likes you, they enjoy your company and the positivity you bring to their life. Respect, on the other hand, is regard for another person’s safety, space, freedom, privacy, property and individuality. When someone respects you, they may not necessarily like you, but see you as having the same rights and considerations as they and everyone else. That’s perfectly okay because not everybody is alike and shares the same beliefs, feelings, ideas or backgrounds. Like is subjective.

Put another way, someone may dislike you, but if you were lying badly injured on the sidewalk, they would more than likely stop and help you, even stay beside you and hold your hand until the ambulance arrived.

On the other hand, when a person does not respect you, they have no regard for your safety, space, freedom, privacy, property or individuality. They don’t see you as having the same human rights and considerations as they and everyone else. That person will think it’s perfectly okay to violate you because in their mind, you somehow deserve to be violated. They will also be much less likely to stop and help you if they see you lying injured on the sidewalk because they’d most likely wouldn’t care if you ever got to a hospital. They would simply act like they didn’t see you lying there, or worse, step over you with a look of contempt and keep going.

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Someone can dislike you and at the same time, respect your right not to have your boundaries crossed. When they disrespect you, they won’t acknowledge your personal boundaries and are likely to trample your dignity and human rights. In their mind, you either don’t or shouldn’t have the same human rights or dignity as them and everyone else. The person will more than likely wish you harm or ill will and probably dread breathing the same air as you.

Signs of Disrespect

1. Lack of regard for the person’s freedom- this could include, belittling their opinions and ideas, taking away their freedom to speak by talking over them when they are speaking, getting angry with them if they would rather spend time with family than with you or the group.

2. Lack of regard for the person’s safety- you bully them or put them in danger of being physically hurt. You can’t stand the fact that the person even exists.

Signs of Dislike

1. Nothing in common with the person. You wish them well, but you’d prefer not to be around them. You have no problem coexisting.

If you are a victim of bullying, you must be able to distinguish between the two and take the appropriate steps to take care of yourself.

Disrespect is mush worse than dislike. Dislike is a part of life and mush easier to deal with. Disrespect, on the other hand, is harmful. The people who dislike you won’t necessarily try to hurt you but will act neutral around you. They might even greet you and say a few words to you just to be polite, but won’t buddy up to you.

The people who disrespect you will have absolute nothing to say to you, or they will talk terrible to you, shame you, humiliate you, try to sabotage you or physically assault you.

The more you know.